Let us now praise the dastardly dandelion.
March 19, 2014
The sentinel has arrived.
At his self-assigned post.
Reporting for duty.
Musket in hand.
Bayonet – well, nozzle – affixed.
His military vehicle – his super-sized pick-em-up truck – has gotten him here.
Battle boots tightly laced.
War face on.
Ready for patrol.
No matter how long it takes.
Hup, two three, four.
This is trench warfare.
Take no prisoners trench warfare.
The enemy must be flushed out, destroyed.
At all costs.
Determined, he searches the trenches.
The trenches being those small spaces between the vast concrete covered sections of concrete here on this parking lot.
Armed with his proven weapon – a giant size container of weed killer with the hose and nozzle – he seeks out the seeming scourge of the land.
That persistent enemy of civilized, peace loving people that must be tracked down, found, destroyed at all cost – the gosh-awful dandelion.
There is one right there.
Cat-like, this soldier creeps, sneaks upon this young dandelion that dares to claim a space – tiny though it be – on this honored, protected, patrolled concrete parking lot.
Bazooka-like, the toxic spray spews from the weapon.
There, take that.
A goodly bit of the toxic liquid in the giant-sized container has been called into battle, applied.
There, upon the small dandelion, drenching it.
There, in time, to do its work.
There, to take its toll.
There, to fell this enemy of the people.
There, to kill, kill, kill.
This dandelion will never grow to adulthood.
Death to the dastardly dandelion.
Stealthily, the soldier moves on.
Booted step by booted step.
From a safe distance, we watch his ongoing patrol.
After a while, another zap-zap-zap of the weapon.
Then, later still, another.
A trio of dandelion kills on maybe an acre of concrete.
Patrol over, he gets into his military vehicle – his pick-em-up truck — and leaves.
We wonder how the little dandelion got to be something of public enemy No. 1.
We think about the old saw that says the squirrel is really just a rodent with good PR.
Surely the dandelion is deserving of equally good PR.
Why, the dandelion often is the only plant able to grow in some places.
Able to color the landscape.
There to smile.
To demonstrate resilience.
It has uses.
Tea. Salad ingredient. Soup flavoring.
Dandelions offer vitamins, minerals, antioxidants.
Even as medicine, as those who occupied this land before we came, would attest.
In a television commercial, we see a big man standing in a driveway holding a large container of toxic spray, ready to zap a single, solitary, irksome dandelion that dares show its smiling, flowery face.
He zaps it.
We wonder why.
It is the only colorful flower in sight.
Why not let it stay?
Or, if it must go, why not simply reach down and pluck it from its chosen place?
The man holding the big container of toxic spray looks like he could use the exercise – the bending over to pull the dandelion from its place.
And, when the rains come, where will the toxic spray go, be washed to?
Into our water supply?
Into the ground, there to stay until some distant day when it might return to haunt us?
Off to kill, sicken the fish in our creeks and streams and rivers and lakes?
And who knows what else?
And to whom?
We see these well-armed sentinels, bravely bearing, using their store-bought liquid weapons.
Waging their war.
Weeding out the unwanted.
And we think they surely stalk the wrong enemy.
For we have seen the enemy.
And it is us.
Roger Summers is a journalist and essayist who spends time in Texas, New Mexico and England and in a world of curiosity and creativity. He is the author of The Day Camelot Came to Town and Heart Songs From a Washboard Road. He can be reached at [email protected]
Please click the book cover image to read the short story collection of Roger Summers, Heart Songs from a Washboard Road.